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Herb Boyd, “Black Detroit” Author and activist Herb Boyd provides a history of African-Americans in Detroit; from the Great Migration to today. He’s joined in conversation by Rita Kiki Edozie, professor of international relations and African affairs at Michigan State University

Rethink Shinola

By Rebekah Modrak

RETHINK SHINOLA is a multi-part, Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing the branding messages publicized by the company Shinola, founded in 2011. Shinola’s name is “a nod” to the former Shinola, a shoe polish company that promoted its products using racist caricatures of African Americans. The “new” Shinola company planted itself in Detroit and leverages and profiteers from the extreme conditions and image of the city as a site of grit and resilience. The brand creates representations of patriarchal whiteness to enforce perceptions of their “leadership” and circulates images of African American employees being grateful for this so-called governance. In Shinola’s narratives, the “wild” Detroit environment needs a civilized savior who can first identify with and then tame and civilize the savage.

Food, Race and Justice | Malik Yankini Explore how the global food system of white supremacy is a barrier to having a food system that ensures justice for all members of society. Malik Yakini is dedicated to working to identify and alleviate the impact of racism and white privilege on the food system. Yakini is a founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a four acre farm in Detroit and spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council, which he chairs.

What Unfresh Hell Is This? Detroit, A Post-Mortem

By Mary F. Corey

Detroit, the latest film by Kathryn Bigelow and her screenwriting partner Mark Boal, is not really about Detroit or the 1967 uprising in that city. The film dramatizes an event that took place during the uprising when police stormed the Algiers Motel, responding to a false report of sniper fire from the hotel. The police rounded up the guests — a group of unarmed Black men and two underage white girls who were, as one critic said, “partying like it’s 1966.”

The Water Crisis In Flint: If Flint Were a Country…

By Maksim Kokushkin

…it would rank at the bottom of the world for urban access to clean water. The preface to current crisis was written in 2013 when the Governor-appointed emergency manager authorized Flint’s switch from a safe water source to a less expensive one. In the spring of 2014, the city started drawing water for household consumption from the highly polluted Flint River. According to the Virginia Tech scientists who first exposed the public health crisis in 2015, the levels of lead and other pollutants in the tap water made it unsafe for consumption, even after filtering.

Thinking Dialectically: What Grace Lee Boggs Taught Me

By Robin D. G. Kelley

We knew this day would come, but I am not prepared to call Grace Lee Boggs an ancestor.  Not yet.  Brilliant, demanding, critical, exacting, serious, searching, as cranky as she was empathetic, Grace mentored me like no other.  She had unbelievably high expectations for those around her, myself included, and despite her occasional disappointment, she never gave up on our capacity to think and act and think more deeply.  She relentlessly and lovingly pushed us with the force and precision of the expert dialectician we all knew her to be.

I’ve known Grace twenty-two out of the one hundred years she spent on this planet. I first encountered her in person in April of 1993, at a conference on C.L.R. James held at Brown University.  Of course, I first met her on the page as co-author with her equally famous husband, James [Jimmy] Boggs, of radical texts like Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century (1974) and the small pamphlets Detroit: Birth of a Nation (1967) and Uprooting Racism and Racists (1969).  There was also the series of small books/pamphlets issued in the 1970s under the title, Conversations in Maine